Project on Antisemitism, Holocaust Memory and National Narratives in the Former Eastern Bloc

East-Central Europe has recently become a fruitful ground for nationalist movements and illiberal democracies. While striving to create strong national identity substantially based on the national past, the rising governments have adopted, to various degrees, ‘a policy of useful history’ (Y. Bauer). Instead of confronting the complex, not-so-glorious historical past, those new agents of collective memory offered rather distorted narratives protecting the good name of their countries, and nurturing people’s national pride. The resulting ‘war of narratives’ or ‘competing victimhood’ has a profound impact not only on the collective memory in the relevant countries, but also on historical discourse and research. Flattened and politicized approaches and their agents have been increasingly favoured over the nuanced studies revealing the complexity of history and memory.

The project, headed by Dr. Anat Vaturi, concentrates on two interwoven subjects of, firstly, the forms and functions of antisemitism and, secondly, politicization of memory, both within the framework of redefining national history in contemporary Poland, Hungary, and Lithuania. The project seeks to add an in-depth perspective by studying antisemitism as a significant factor in the processes of politization of memorialization, Holocaust distortion, competing victimhood, and rise of nationalist mythologies. The research examines the involvement of political and state agents (including GONGOs) in the discussed processes as well as survey public opinion and academic research related to the subject. In addition, the project discussed the relations between Israeli government and the policy makers in Poland, Lithuania, and Hungary, and compare the emerging policies of memory with Israeli tradition.

The different countries are researched by Dr. Anat Vaturi (Poland), Dr. Balazs Berkovits (Hungary), and Julija Levin (Lithuania). The project will include: Seminars/lectures/book talks with guests and graduate students; a podcast series: 3 podcasts with distinguished international scholars involved in the public debate; a workshop for international scholars and a research papers and opinion statements published on a special platform on our website.


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